The programme is run by Bord Bía (the Irish Food Board) and Compass Group Ireland and six bakeries are involved in the programme for tailored workshops and mentoring.
Dermot Walsh, co-owner of Waterford-based M&D Bakery, said the programme will put participants in “a unique position” to become a supplier. He predicted that at least six of the 18 companies involved will have products listed with Compass Group Ireland at home and overseas.
He said: “It helps us participants get customers, as well as learning about foodservice. They teach a lot about how things work, and the way buyers need things to work,” he said. “So it is a win-win situation for everybody.”
Bakeries on the Food Heroes Programme include exporters: Fusco Foods (desserts and cakes); M&D Bakery (Blaa); and The Penny Loaf Company (mini soda breads). Others involved and who trade nationally and locally are: Honest Gluten Free Bakery (mini cakes and breads); Seery’s Bakery (individual wrapped cakes); and Le Patissier (cakes and desserts).
Aidan Cotter, chief executive of Bord Bía, said: “Bord Bía has identified significant opportunities for companies providing high-quality, healthy, innovative grab-and-go snacks. The workshop-based programme, which takes place over an eight-month period, is coordinated by Bord Bía and will support companies at varying stages in their development.”
Fiacra Nagle, managing director of Compass Group Ireland, said: “We are delighted that through this programme, Irish companies will have the opportunity to use Compass’ scale to grow their business and learn from our in-depth foodservice experience and consumer insight.”
The total out-of-home or foodservice market in Ireland was valued at €6.13bn (£4.47bn) in 2014 (Bord Bía’s Irish Foodservice Channel Insights Report, 2014).